Dangers of renting from private landlords
Firstly, let’s take a look at the dangers faced by tenants that choose to rent privately.
Private landlords aren’t regulated
Estate agents are legally required to register as a member of a professional trade body or association. What this means is that they must abide by a particular code of conduct, offering tenants piece of mind and a degree of consumer protection. However, private landlords don’t have this same legal requirement.
One of the biggest dangers faced when choosing to rent from a private landlord is the risk of falling victim to a fake landlord scam.
These scams occur when a ‘landlord’ lists a non-existent property on a website such as Facebook or Gumtree and convinces a prospective tenant to pay a deposit for said non-existent property.
Lack of deposit protection
Renting from a private landlord also poses financial danger as your deposit might not have the same protection. This is because private landlords are not legally required to provide an inventory, and without an inventory it’s difficult for tenants to prove that existing damage to the property was not caused during their tenancy.
Lack of legal knowledge
Unexperienced private landlords might possess less knowledge of legal procedures and property law. This might mean that they fail to ensure legal requirements are met by themselves or yourself as the tenant.
Our advice to tenants that insist on renting through a private landlord is that you should increase your legal knowledge so you understand your rights and responsibilities. You won’t have the benefit of an estate agent’s extensive knowledge in property law and might end up having your legal rights neglected.
Private landlords commonly offer ‘informal agreements,’ instead of a formal contract. These informal agreements are often hard to turn down as the landlord will offer attractive terms such as lower monthly rent or a reduced deposit.
As tempting as these informal agreements might be we advise you DO NOT agree to these terms as in sacrificing a contract you also sacrifice your rights. Without a legally binding contract any changes to your agreement, such as an increase in rent rate, cannot be proven.
Dangers of letting to private tenants
Letting out your property privately means leaving yourself open to risks such as increased responsibility, increased admin and potentially unreliable tenants.
Choosing to let your property privately means that problems with the property or the tenant are your responsibility, this includes:
· Increased admin – without the assistance of an estate agent, you accept the responsibility of drawing up property contracts and registering tenant deposits with a protection scheme.
· Rent collection and chasing – Should a tenant fail to make a rent payment it is your responsibility to rectify this.
· Legal procedures – Estate agents would usually ensure that property meets certain legal standards, for instance securing gas and electrical safety certificates and EPC’s. Without their assistance this responsibility falls solely on you.
· Availability – You need to make yourself available at all hours should the tenant need to contact you about any property emergencies. You must also deal with these issues in a timely fashion, despite the short notice and any commitments you might have in your personal life.
Estate agents usually carry out vetting and referencing for prospective tenants, without their assistance you run the risk of letting your property to an unreliable tenant who fails to maintain the property and make regular rent payments.
Tenants that choose to rent privately might try to avoid a formal contract and suggest an informal agreement instead. This is not within your best interests as you and your rights as a landlord are not protected.
Estate agents will always supply a formal contract containing legal processes that you and the tenant agree to. This will protect you should there be any form of dispute surrounding the tenancy or the property.
When deciding whether to rent privately or through an estate agent it is important to consider the dangers discussed in this article. Understandably, there are also advantages to renting privately such as cutting out the middle man and saving money, you should weigh up these benefits against the dangers and decide whether private renting is worth the risk.
Whatever you decide, it’s important to remember to do your due diligence. This can be the key to ensuring you find a great estate agent who’s worth their weight in gold.
A few questions you should ask when assessing your estate agent:
- Are you registered with an accredited trade body or association?
As previously mentioned estate agents are legally required to be regulated, so the answer to this should be YES. Mr Homes are a fully licensed and regulated agent registered with Property Mark. We are also registered with the property ombudsman and are approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).
- Are you registered with a money protection scheme?
It is a legal requirement for estate agents to be registered with a client money protection scheme (CMP). Any estate agent worth their salt will be able to confirm their registration. You can view Mr Homes’ CMP by clicking here or visiting our websites. Reputable estate agents will be transparent and make this easy to locate.
- What services will you provide?
It could be worthwhile getting a comprehensive list of services your estate agent will provide, so you have a clear understanding of what is their responsibility and what is the responsibility of the landlord.
Renting with an estate agent
If you’re looking to let a property across Cardiff or surrounding areas contact the friendly team at Mr Homes today. Working with us will give you piece of mind that your property is in safe hands.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to rent a property across Cardiff or surrounding areas, visit our ‘To let’ page. You can also register your details with us, we’ll be sure to get back to you with any properties that might be of interest.